The 2013 Festival
With the enthusiastic support of individuals, groups, communities and businesses across Orkney, the very first Orkney Nature Festival turned out a brilliant success – thanks to everyone who was involved!
Roughly 1,000 people enjoyed walks, talks and boat trips, including a including a cruise round the Pentland Skerries...not to mention snorkelling and a horse-drawn carriage ride.
Those who took part in the biodiversity hunt in Kirkwall came up with nearly 150 species, including the first record of wall lettuce for Orkney. The hunt on Eday topped even that, with over 170 species recorded and one lucky group spotting an otter.
One of the highlights of this year was the tour to see the puffins at Castle o’Burrian, guided by the S1 and S2 pupils from Westray Junior High School. RSPB Scotland’s field teacher, Amy Malcolm, worked closely with the school over the two months running up to the festival and the newly-trained young guides were brilliant on the day.
A birdsong walk and ringing demonstration brought people very close indeed to wildlife, while trips uncovering the flora and fauna of Orkney's World Heritage Site united the themes of nature and heritage in the landscape.
The finale event at Balfour Mains, on the Balfour Castle estate, rounded off a fantastic festival in style including the chance to try some of Orkney’s best locally and sustainably sourced food.
The stars of this shorter festival were over 100 gorgeous seal pups around the Flotta coast. The weather was calm enough for boat trips and walks around the island, as well as an indoor felting activity where folk created seals and autumn landscapes.
Those on the mystery migrant tour around East Mainland and South Ronaldsay had a great time spotting redwings, fieldfares, snow buntings and great northern divers amongst others.
Unfortunately we didn't manage to visit Hoy's mountain hares - torrential rain and gales kept us all at home on the day that had been planned for. Perhaps another year...